VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (ABNS 6/21/19)—The Board of Directors of American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) unanimously elected the Rev. Jamie Washam and Dr. Lacey S. Alford as incoming president and vice president, respectively, at its meeting here prior to American Baptist Churches USA’s (ABCUSA) Biennial Mission Summit gathering.
Both were elected to two-year terms, effective Jan. 1, 2020, filling vacancies left when the terms of President Dr. Clifford I. Johnson and Vice President Wendy J. Hagn expire at the end of 2019.
In his report to the board, Johnson shared his gratitude for the opportunity to lead the board, especially during the last year in which ABHMS made great strides in mission and ministry. “It was a blessing,” he said, “to work with the staff and executive director in developing a Space for Grace conference in 2018 that proved to be such a marvelous occasion.”
Citing also a board trip to Puerto Rico in December 2018 to view ABHMS’ renewal efforts there, he affirmed the phenomenal work of healing that he witnessed. “Thank you for the privilege of serving as your president,” he said. “It is a blessing to be a tool in this ministry.”
Executive Director Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, in his report, remembered Virginia Beach residents still reeling from the trauma of the mass shooting in a city municipal building, just a few weeks ago, that left a dozen people dead.
“We pray,” he said, “that the local community will experience God’s overwhelming grace, mercy and peace throughout this season of recovery and healing. We beseech God for mercy for the families and friends of those whose lives were cut short so senselessly, and we pray that American Baptists will be used this week to bring light and hope that will, ultimately, move the community toward renewal.”
Haggray announced that the 2020 Space for Grace conference will be held Sept. 21-25 in Kansas City, Mo., and will include the launch of a Chaplaincy and Specialized Ministries Network. Expanded to three days, the conference will be held in the years between ABCUSA Mission Summit celebrations.
Jill Duroseau, ABHMS team lead for the American Baptist Personnel Services/ministrElife platform, informed the board that ABHMS is ready for and looking forward to the hard launch of the newly designed digital platform for ministry professionals during Mission Summit. The platform has been in beta mode since November 2018, undergoing extensive review and upgrades.
The Rev. Salvador Orellana, director of ABHMS’ Rebuilding, Restoring, Renewing Puerto Rico initiative, said that at least 30,000 homes in Puerto Rico still have only blue tarps as roofs—21 months after Hurricane Maria’s destruction. As ABHMS’ initiative moves into Phase 3, he outlined 2019 goals: “We want to help 50 families, which will impact a total of 200 people. This will require raising $300,000.” The long-range goal (2020-2022) is helping 450 families, which will make a difference in the lives of 1,800 individuals—and require raising $2.7 million.
“The need continues,” Orellana said.
ABHMS board member Quinton Roman Nose introduced special guest Ken Adams, outgoing chair of the Bacone College Board of Trustees, who shared his gratitude for ABHMS’ support of Bacone throughout the last few years.
“We were struggling every which way to find a way forward,” Adams said, “and ABHMS brought us a saving grace. Without this assistance, Bacone would probably not have survived. There is no way I could thank you enough.”
Dr. LeRoy Thompson, vice president of Academic Affairs at Bacone, also a special guest, said, “I believe this is a kairos moment at Bacone.”
The oldest continuing institution of higher education in the state of Oklahoma, the college will celebrate 140 years in February 2020 and enroll its 140th class soon. Bacone is the only college in the country that offers a four-year degree in American Indian ministry, a program that’s been built over the last four years.
Special guest Brenda Sullivan, president of the American Baptist Indian Caucus, shared with the board that the caucus has a “Memorandum of Understanding with ABHMS to work together to benefit our people.” Most American Indian churches are more than 100 years old, she said, and continue to battle for those who cannot battle for themselves, as they fight poverty, alcoholism, domestic violence and other issues. “We want to help our churches bring hope to our people,” she said.
American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.